COVINGTON -- Even though the Newton County Board of Education was split earlier this month on a vote concerning an educational SPLOST resolution, they eventually united to call for the election.
The school board unanimously approved a call for an education SPLOST, or special purpose local option sales tax, referendum that will permit Newton County voters on March 19 to decide if they want to extend the existing 1 percent tax for education for a five-year period from 2015 to 2019.
It would be the fourth round of an education SPLOST for the county that started in May 2007.
The tax would be used for capital projects, including a new high school, and to pay the principal and interest on bonds issued for education for the five years that the SPLOST is collected.
Taxpayers in Newton currently pay 1.90 mills for debt service for school bonds. If the SPLOST is approved, $30 million of the SPLOST revenue will be used to pay the principal and interest on bond debt coming due on Feb. 2, 2014 through Aug. 2, 2020.
About $45 million in SPLOST funds will be used to build a replacement high school for Eastside High and for other capital projects. According to the NCSS facilities plan, the Eastside building eventually is expected to transform into the system's theme school for kindergarten through eighth grades; a parent-involvement theme school for kindergarten through sixth grades currently is housed in the old Ficquett Elementary building.
Other projects could include maintenance and technology needs, and, if necessary, additions to existing school buildings.
Because a portion of the Social Circle City School District is in Newton County, the Social Circle Board of Education will have to also call for the SPLOST referendum in order for it to go before the voters. Social Circle would receive $250,000 for capital projects if the SPLOST is approved.
Social Circle is expected to vote on the project on Dec. 13.
Accompanying the tax referendum, the Newton school board also voted to continue the intergovernmental agreement between Social Circle City Schools and the Newton County BOE, which originally was executed in May 2007, which provides for each system to make property tax payments for students residing within the respective school district boundary but attending the other school district's school system.
Newton school board Chair Eddie Johnson tried to get his fellow board members to approve the SPLOST referendum at the board's work session earlier this month, causing the split vote. Board members Shakila Henderson-Baker and Jeff Meadors said they wanted more time to look over the proposed referendum; additionally, they pointed out that the item was not on the agenda as a voting item until the meeting later in the month.
Board member Almond Turner made a motion during the work session to approve the SPLOST referendum, but later rescinded his motion so the board could vote at the later meeting.
Editor Alice Queen contributed to this article.